Better Know a Ref

Better know a ref: Silviu Petrescu

I am Silviu.

I am Silviu.

Romanian by birth, and now residing in Waterloo (not Iowa), one Silviu Petrescu has graced us on the last regular season home match day of the 2016 MLS season. I didn’t expect to be sounding the new referee klaxon this week, but here we are. Silviu turned 48 just last week, putting him among the elder statesmen of the PRO ranks. He’s a former FIFA ref, who is now on the national list for Canada, and boy has he logged some miles.

Just 4 days after turning 18, Silviu Petrescu made his professional debut back in his homeland, between the legendary sides of Metrom Brasov and F.C. OLT. 30 years later and we find ourselves face to face with a man who has spent the last decade plying his trade in MLS. Having spent 3 years in the Romanian premier division as a player, he abandoned the path after he left the Army on the advice of his father that his referee career would outlast his playing career by a decade or more. He now spends his time off the pitch as a Taxi driver, because he likes to be his “own boss” and it allows flexibility to coincide with his referee duties.

Like many other refs, he has a family history of taking charge of the matches. Papa Petrescu, Radu, was a FIFA ref and one of the top officials in Romania until he controversially disallowed a late goal in the Romanian Cup Final in 1988 between Steaua Bucarest and Dinamo Bucarest, the Eternal Derby (as the saying goes – no pyro, no party).

Guardian Angels FC

Guardian Angels FC

It was the third straight year he had officiated the heated rivalry between the two, and of course emotions ran high when Steaua scored, only to have it waived off for offside. The late controversy was such that it led Valentin Ceausescu (Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s son) to demand that Steaua leave the field, as he felt the goal was scored in earnest. Like any good eastern bloc side would when the dear leaders progeny makes a request, the players obliged and the match was abandoned, and Radu awarded the cup to Dinamo. The Federation of course offered the Cup to Steaua, who initially accepted it, only to renounce it two years later (conveniently after the fall of the Ceauscu regime), recognizing it was tainted glory. Dinamo would not accept the trophy either, and the ’88 title remains officially unclaimed.

Silviu is not shy of controversy himself. Despite being named 2012 PRO Referee of the Year, and getting the MLS Cup Final appointment that year, there was much consternation. Paul Gardner was baffled by the decision, citing Petrescu as one of the worst officials in MLS, particularly for not calling early fouls and letting games get out of hand. Steve Davis agrees with him, and like them or not, those are two prominent voices in US Soccer reporting. In addition, Silviu was suspended early in the 2015 season after missing some pretty blatent offenses, which of course got the full on Borg-treatment in his weekly referee review. He ended up moving past that and in total got 16 matches in 2015, one of the highest totals in the league, so obviously Peter Walton trusts him.

Enough with the pleasantries, let’s get to what we all came for – stats, Stats, STATS!

Silviu Petrescu has overseen 12 Portland Timbers matches in total since the jump to MLS, helping them to 6 wins, 4 ties, and just 2 losses. Maybe we should have asked for him earlier in the season. In those dozen appearances he has been consistently inconsistent, spreading 44 yellows across those matches, twice having matches with 6 yellows, and awarding only 1 red and 1 pen. Notably, he was our man in the middle for a lovely 3 nil drubbing of Colorado back in 2013, a game apparently without a single card despite 27 fouls. For the Rapids he has also logged 12 games, but they have not seen positive outcomes. Losing 8, and winning just twice with Petrescu, he has handed out 4 reds in those games.

Looking back at Silviu Petrescu’s stats since 2008, he has 119 MLS matches between regular season, and playoffs. He’d probably have more if not for the many international appointments.


Interestingly, Petrescu falls again into that referee category that calls about twice as many penalties as he does red cards.  What to take from that I still do not know, but I have pondered mightily and found no solace. I am disappoint. His spread of fouls is wild, although 17 isn’t particularly low in foul count, his high of 47 fouls in a single game is patently absurd. Shockingly he has never handed out more than 1 red in a game.


Taking a look at the super scientific foul to yellow card ratio from the last few years, Silvi appears to be right where we’d prefer a referee to be, that is to say pretty average.


It should be obvious by now that Silviu Peterescu hands out quite a few fouls and yellows, but not many reds.


His foul distribution does look pretty nice, peaking out in the upper 20’s per game, but there are some pretty crazy outliers.


His distribution of cards is pretty disturbing, as we’ll see in a moment, he tends to show a lot of cards late, or few. This is indicative of the criticisms levied earlier, that he tends to let matches get out of control.


Let me ‘splain…No, there is too much. Let me sum up. More than a quarter of Silvi’s cards are the 5th or more in a match, only behind Unkel Ted and Fotis Bazakos. A full 43% of his cards are the 4th or more, second only behind Teddy. inigo

Things don’t look good for the Timbers on Sunday, despite Silviu’s history with the Timbers and their seemingly winning ways. As we learned in the last Colorado match (really in all Rapids matches), they will look to break up play and foul the Timbers. They will most likely get away with it to great effect, and the game will devolve into a late foul fest as players grow frustrated in the rainy confines of Providence Park.

Let’s hope for an early Timbers goal, and an open, flowing game.

This will likely be the final BKAR of the year. It’s the last regular season home game. We may get a new ref on the final match day, but given that we’ve had more than half the PRO pool at this point, it seems unlikely. Even more unlikely is that we’d make the playoffs and get a new ref. Playoff referee appointments tend to be from the upper half of the PRO pool, and we have that fully covered at this point, because we know that every Timbers game is a bit game in MLS/PRO terms. Even less likely is that I’ll do a BKAR for the CCL match on Wednesday since I don’t know the appointments ahead of time.

Thank you for taking this wonderful journey into the minds and behaviors of the most hated men in our league (besides Ozzie Alonso, lololol, what were you thinking dude? Oh that’s right, you don’t think).

Get at me online at @fwjmcg and please enjoy yourselves, whatever the final days of the season may bring. Let it rain, let it pour, let the Portland Timbers score!

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